IAM has also needed to acclimate to the unique challenge of supporting people who are finding themselves socially isolated for an extended period of time; with little disruption to our services and supports; this has largely meant moving into a virtual service delivery format.
We are seeing an early shift in the nature and frequency of calls related to this pandemic, where prescribed isolation and reduced social interactions, while necessary, may become potential points of exacerbation for people living with mental illness. In addition, many of our clients are precariously housed and underemployed, and many may be impacted by increased stressors if their employment and housing are interrupted as a result of the economic response to the pandemic. We are also seeing early signs of the effect this crisis is having on families, many who are being tasked with a greater supportive role during these uncertain times.
To meet the growing demand from our community, we have:
• Triage call centre: As a first touch-point, we've revised our call-back policy to within 24 hours
• Virtual care: We are moving all of our in-person counselling supports for individuals, including caregivers, onto confidential, virtual platforms for crisis and ‘drop in’ needs
• Broadened our reach: We are adapting our mental health expertise to support anyone experiencing mental health challenges during this time, across all ends of the spectrum; we are also extending our expertise in serious mental illness to the mental health and health sectors
• Expanded service hours: Our call-in services will extend into evening hours,with a counsellor on standby to respond to mental health needs outside of regular hours
• Proactive outreach: We are prioritizing ‘check ins’ with all clients in our recovery-focused groups assessing their need for online convening and connection with peers; we are also proactively calling our families and caregivers to ensure they know we are available
• Continuity of care: We are moving all of our family education & support groups to virtual delivery, incorporating crisis-related concerns and coping strategies for those experiencing increased ‘burden of care’
With your support, we can continue to support the mental health of communities during this time and build up our response to COVID-19.